The latest figures on alcohol related deaths in the UK are out from the Office for National Statistics and they show that women of a certain maturity have been drinking themselves to death in ever increasing numbers. This of course the very terror of the ages and no doubt real soon now we’ll be told that we just must have minimum pricing on booze.
We might actually want to think on this a little bit more and try to understand it:
Baby boomers’ drinking blamed for pushing alcohol-related deaths among women to highest ever level
Alcohol-related deaths among women are at their highest ever level, new figures have revealed. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that last year there were 8 female deaths from alcohol for every 100,000 people in the UK – the greatest number since records began in 2001. This was being driven by an overall rise in alcohol deaths among 55 to 74-year-olds in recent years. John Britton, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said the figures pointed to a generation paying for past excesses as well as continued heavy drinking.
You can just hear Public Health England sharpening their pecksniffs to write the new law can’t you?
At which point, some thinking. Death rates for other things – most notably any form of communicable disease – are still falling meaning that as none of us are immortal we’ve got to die of something else. Death rates for the things we do still die of are going to therefore rise.
As to the idea of more booze tax to stop this, well. Some 8,000 people (a bit of rounding) died of booze. Some 25 million drink – 50% of the adult population being a good enough guess. We should tax 25 million more in order to stop 8,000? Almost all of whom won’t be dissuaded by the higher prices anyway – it being logically obvious that seriously hard drinkers and alcoholics are the least price sensitive.
But here’s the real reason why we should pay little to no attention to this.
Since the beginning of the time series in 2001, rates of alcohol-specific deaths among males have been more than double those observed among females (16.8 and 8.0 deaths per 100,000 in 2017 respectively).
We’re currently looking at variations in the data over a period of a whole 16 years (this is all from 2017). That’s good enough to note large events. We’d certainly see the effects of WWI, The Spanish ‘Flu, WWII etc on mortality over such time periods. Variations of 10 and 20% in an unlikely cause of death over such a short series? Really, there’s not much factual we’re going to be able to glean from it.
There is one final point. These alcohol death rates peak in the 55 to 65 (depends for men and women) age group. That is, it seems to take 35 to 45 years for booze to kill you. Which is reassuring really, at least it is to journalists.